HOUSE HISTORY: The historic William H. Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois is on the market for $1.85 million. This listing marks the first time the home has been on the market in over 55 years.
Built in 1893 by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Winslow House was the then 26-year old architect’s first independent commission. The home’s most notable features are original, including quarter-sawn oak floors and hand-carved front door, oak columns, wooden grillwork, archways, and leaded-glass windows throughout. Some of the home’s features were fabricated by its original owner, William H. Winslow, including bronze sconces and other ironwork details that still adorn the home’s interiors and exterior. The Winslow Brothers Company, makers of ornamental ironworks, fabricated the façade of the Carson Pirie Scott building and much of the copper-plated, cast-iron ornamental designs in the former Chicago Stock Exchange. Winslow met Wright while the young architect was working for the architectural firm Adler and Sullivan.
A grand reception hall with a private inglenook, featuring built-in seating and a fireplace, greets visitors upon entry into the home. Other stand-out features include a living room with a polygonal bay window with built-in seating, and a dining room with a stunning semi-circular conservatory with 13 leaded-glass windows. The 5,036-square-foot home also includes a library, enclosed sun porch, four generously-sized bedrooms, a second-floor family room with fireplace, and 3½ baths. In addition, there is a 550 square foot bonus room with fireplace on the third floor (formerly maid’s quarters) which could easily be converted into a children’s play area or media room.
The Winslow home exhibits early features of Wright's Prairie style, including wide eaves, a hipped roof and Roman brick. A large stable, also reflective of early Prairie style design, sits behind the home. The stable had originally been built for carriages and horses, but was subsequently modified to accommodate cars. It also has living space that includes a one bedroom apartment with 1½ baths.
Among the few renovations made over the last half-century, are the enclosure of the back porch, a remodeled kitchen with butler’s pantry, and the addition of a powder room on the first floor. The floor plan throughout the home has lots of private nooks. The Winslow House calls to mind the elegant time of a century ago and yet readily accommodates a contemporary lifestyle. It is truly ideal for both entertaining and daily living.
The home has not been open or shown to the public since 1979 when it was part of a “house walk” sponsored by the Infant Welfare Society.
A note signed by Wright is in the Walker family library, simply stating to Bill Walker, "Take good care of it." Peter Walker, who is handling the estate for his family said his mother kept the home in pristine condition up until her death earlier this year, and preserving its history and character has been a great source of pride for his family.
After Wright’s death in 1959, the American Institute of Architects Board passed a resolution stating that seventeen of his most significant works “be forever preserved.” The Winslow House is on that list, and was later added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
There have only been five owners in its 120 year-old history.